Heading south, our next shop was Popayán, known as the “white city” due to its many whitewashed colonial buildings – the city centre is a UNESCO world heritage site. Nestled between the Western and Central mountain ranges, Popayán is a peaceful place, home to one of Colombia’s most prestigious universities and birthplace of several previous presidents.
After checking in to the quaint ArteHostel Popayán, we spent the day wandering the leafy streets and ornate churches of the city. In the afternoon we climbed the steep, slippery slope of El Morro, a hill which offers sweeping views of Popayán and the surrounding area. As the sun set over the distant Andes, the clouds turned a fiery red, filling the vast sky whilst we sat on the grass munching candy floss.
Later that evening I discovered that El Morro is in fact a pre-Spanish burial site, kind of like a barrow. The civilisation which built the site vanished long before the Spanish arrived, but the large statue of a conquistador atop the site seemed in poor taste nonetheless. After a fantastic steak dinner we packed our bags in preparation for the journey to Ipiales, our final stop before the Colombia-Ecuador border.